Pesticides: how they affect all of us.. and what I’m doing about it.

Wow. The truth will set you free, someone important said.

When the truth looks like bad news, of course, it appears to limit us, but.. perhaps if we are ready, the truth, even bad news, can empower us to finally move from our present idea of health and our responsibility for it.

The United Nations has just released a report condemning the use of toxic pesticides – and it directly attributes over 200,000 deaths per year around the world.

It attacks agrochem manufacturers’ claims that overcoming global hunger needs pesticides It calls the resulting strategies of the poisoners “systemic denial” of  deaths and injuries from their products..

“A human rights violation”.

The report was delivered on March 8 to the UN Human Rights Council, detailing effects of chronic exposure to pesticides, including links to cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, hormone disruption, developmental disorders and sterility.

And that’s not all. As well as causing almost a quarter of a million deaths yearly, toxic pesticides cause adverse reactions for up to 41 million people.

Co-author Hilal Elver – research professor and special UN rapporteur,  says the report bluntly calls the use of pesticides “catastrophic“ and says that relying on these poisonous chemicals is a short-term solution that threatens the right to adequate food and health.

Andrew Kimball, executive director at the Center for Food Safety, said the report is historic because it declares that the ability to have non-toxic and safe food is a human right.

99% in Developing Countries

99 percent of the poisonings took place in developing countries, due to lack of protections for farm workers. The report also noted that children – who are often economically or physically forced into labor at an early age– are particularly susceptible to pesticide contamination of food, with 23 deaths reported in India in 2013 and 39 deaths in China in 2014.
In China, pesticide contamination has halted farming on about 20 percent of the arable land.

As well as distributing carcinogenic poisons for human consumption on an unprecedented scale, pesticides also deplete the topsoil, threaten the topsoil ecosystem and pollute our precious groundwater. The report called for a global treaty to govern the use of these substances, and for incentivizing organically produced food. It also recommended natural methods of pest control, including crop rotation.

Big Agro lies to conceal harm

The report was co-authored by Baskut Tuncak, the UN’s special rapporteur on toxins. Tuncak said he was frustrated with the difficulty of proving pesticide harms – even thoigh the science is clear.

Global pesticides are a $50 billion dollar a year industry, an turnover means jobs and money gives agrochemical companies leverage over governments and the scientific community.

Power, he notes, means these industrial giants don’t hesitate to use “aggressive and unethical”  tactics to systematically deny and suppress the truth about pesticide dangers – adding that their lobbying of governments obstructs reform and paralyzes global pesticide restrictions.

Justifying the use of toxic pesticides: “smoke and mirrors”

The accepted belief, propagated by the industry heavyweights – that pesticides are vital to combat the global hunger crisis is a “myth,” according to Helver. In reality, he says, pesticides play no role in reducing world hunger.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization points out that we can already feed 9 billion people, the projected population of the world by 2050. The problem isn’t one of production, Helver says, but of poverty, inequality and improper distribution.

Jay Feldman, executive director of the non-profit environmental group Beyond Pesticides, uses the $43 billion organic industry to prove that toxic chemicals aren’t required to feed people.

Sustainable farming methods can address global hunger – without the use of toxins. Wake up world.


Ian’s Comment:

When I read this report I was immediately upset at the scale of the problem.  And being upset is – to me anyway – being rendered ineffective – impotent, which is exactly where the big political punching AgroBiz people want us to be. Yes, we all have (at last check) up to 600 contaminants in our bodies, most as a result of carrying on normal life in an abnormal chemicalised community. But I believe it’s my right and my responsibility to remain healthy (and cancer free – after all, that IS the bottom line) and I do what I am able to maintain a clean body with good water, clean food and clean air. 

I don’t feel guilty that I can do this when millions of people cannot because every day I am capable – if I am healthy and of sound mind – to write, to lobby, to address issues. I would feel guilty if I didn’t care for my one inner planet – my body and NOT take part in the global cleansing movement!

Of course, I am also blessed to be able to give people the gift of real water and to pass on my knowledge of my own passage through my own health challenges.

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